"Guest" instant booked our farm to make a film

I am copying the guest’s message below. They instant booked and informed me that they are making a film and wanted to stay one night not the required two. Using airbnb as a platform to rent a film location is completely unethical. No permits, no insurance. No production fee. We are lambing right now on our farm and have six very vigilant livestock guardian dogs protecting the property. The film crew would create stress for the ewes trying to give birth and for the dogs trying to protect them. I called airbnb and asked them to cancel the guest and to tell them why so it sends a message to the guest that he can’t use airbnb as a platform for booking a film location.


My name is Joshuah Melnick and I’m a producer in New York City - I’m reaching out because I have a one day shoot next Friday and your farmhouse is the dream location. The shoot would only require use of the property for one day, Friday March 19, from 7am to 9:30pm, and all of the filming would take place outside. It’s a very small, family sized crew of 6 people, including the musician - an upcoming bluegrass-Americana artist (who also happens to be my brother). The concept of the piece explores the hardship of modern farmers. I can send you an attachment of the treatment if you’re interested.

I see that you have a minimum stay requirement, though I’m wondering if you’re willing to be flexible because we won’t actually be inside, other than the occasional snack break and using the restrooms.

If you’re familiar with the bluegrass world, the record has musicians on it from The Del McCourey Band to Taylor Swift’s guitarist. In many ways this record is a dream come true for my brother, and this music video is a signpost in the beginning of a budding career. Your property would make it all the more special. Please let me know if this is of interest to you - you have a beautiful home.


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Well, his message to you is quite nice and polite, too bad he doesn’t understand that you don’t IB something if you are wanting things outside the stated parameters of the listing.

If it were me, because of the nice, very explanatory message, I would have messaged him back, saying that while his project sounds quite exciting, you can’t accept it because XXX, and for him to cancel right away so he gets a full refund. And also explain that he needs to send inquiries, not IB, if wanting something outside the host’s stated availibility or for something other than accommodation. Rather than just getting Airbnb to cancel it.

Some hosts wouldn’t mind accommodating a booking like this as long as the price was upped appropriately, a real damage deposit taken, and the filmaker provided proof of insurance.


I agree the instant book was tacky without inquiring first, but at least they did contact you, and it actually sounds like they were confused and maybe did not realize they actually booked – “Please let me know if this is of interest to you.”

Did you reply asking them to cancel?

“Thanks for your inquiry. Our property is unavailable for commercial use per the terms of our [business license, insurance, etc. whatever you care to cite] [AND/OR] due to the operational requirements of our working farm. We would appreciate your cancelling your instant book reservation through the Airbnb system as soon as possible to ensure you are not charged and to avoid the need for us to initiate an administrative cancellation through the platform. Thank you for your consideration, and best wishes for the success of your film project.”

Imagine if they had not been so forthright and you had to shoo the guitar picker and camera crew off your property, when your attention needs to be on your critters!


I would likely take it, no overnight and done in a day for the price of two. I have a film crew working at my place now, although I knew it upfront.

I would just set boundaries, we are a working farm and some areas will be off limits.



Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will keep you response on file for future situations such as these. I did not contact the guest after they instant booked. They did know they actually booked, The reference to please let me know if this is of interest to you was in regard to the music video. I asked airbnb to handle the cancellation so that the guest got the clear message that airbnb is NOT the platform for booking film locations. I am thankful that he sent the note along with the booking confirmation or otherwise, upon his arrival with his camera crew and musician, I would have to ask them to leave.

I think it was rather impolite not to answer him at all, considering the tone and content of his message. If he had been demanding or come across as entitled, sure, just get Airbnb to cancel it. But he just didn’t know it was inappropriate, sounds like.

I read about another guest who was banned from the platform for something quite similar after being reported by a host, which doesn’t really seem fair.

Because it was not. He IB’d because he could, it saved the dates and he messaged the host his intentions and asked was it ok the way I read it.


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If he truly was a professional as he professed, then he knows that production fees including locale rental, permits, insurance, etc are a hell of a lot more $ than renting two nights at a farm stay via airbnb. (and he asked if we would accept one night when we have a two night policy) I am not giving this dude the benefit of the doubt. He was trying to make a film dirt cheap. He could have easily contacted us directly - not too hard to google our location and come up with the direct contact. He chose to use airbnb as a way of getting his film produced cheaply because he could instant book.


Hey, I’ve been a video producer for nearly 15 years mostly in NYC but traveled a ton :wave: Oh boy where to start. I’ve shot documentary interviews in AirBnBs before and ALWAYS had express permission and a clear signed agreement with location owner. A message on AirBnB wouldn’t cut it.

The agreement spelled out specifics like our insurance coverage, location fees, load-in and load-out times, how big the crew was, what we could and could not shoot, if we could move furniture, electricity requirements, what type of lights we used etc. I never ever would have booked a location (as a producer) without these things officially in place and spoken about.


I got an inquiry on Houfy, from a location scout looking for a cool natural area/ vintage trailer for a big client. I let him know my parameters including x10 daily rate. He called a few days later and we visited and hiked, it was fun to do that. Who knows something may come of it. For the 1st two years we always said no, but now hope to do elopement or micro wedding, so our parameters are expanding, but all must be contacted and contracted definately off ota.


It’s not about the money - it is about his intention. We actually had a conversation because airbnb has not cancelled the reservation so I let him know that they were going to cancel it and why. He responded with offering us more money to do the shoot. I told him that we could not accommodate him at this time because it was unsafe for his crew and for our livestock and LGDs during lambing season for his crew to be wandering the farm. Even if he offered to pay us for our time to accompany his crew from 9 am to 9 pm, we do not have the extra help at this time. I was nice. He was nice. Just wrong place at the wrong time. I wished him success in his project.


This whole scenario may have turned out differently if he was more professional and contacted via an inquiry and we agreed on all of things you mentioned. The irony of this all is that the farm is NOT beautiful at this time of year. We are knee deep in mud and manure (can’t really tell the difference right now). Who would want to be slogging around the farm oozing in shit and mud. And we still have snow in places.


Maybe that’s his aesthetic? :joy:


He’s from NYC- he likely has no idea what a real working farm would be like in this season.

Reminds me of when friends of mine had a govt. contract to graze sheep in the cut blocks- areas that have been logged and replanted with baby trees. The standard practice was to spray herbicides to keep the forest growth down while the newly planted trees took hold and grew enough to hold their own.

But the sheep will graze on the undergrowth so no toxic chemicals need to be used.

Once they were sent somewhere there was nothing for the sheep to eat, so they called the company and told them that- the sheep would eat the seedlings because it was otherwise barren. They were told that according to the maps in the office that shouldn’t be so, but they sent some office guy out in his Gucci loafers to inspect. Needless to say he didn’t stay long- the place was a mud pit with logging slash all over.

I agree that it sounds like “Josh” is just as much of a professional producer as his brother is a famous artist.

The one possible upside is that if Josh was really legitimate, then there might be a huge advertising opportunity for you to have your listing featured in a video shoot, but without some proof of Josh’s prior production success, I find this highly unlikely.

Me, me, me! I grew up on a farm in western Missouri. I’ve been gone for 35 years and God I miss it. I’ll take farm shit over city shit any day.


Instant money maker. Get an Airbnb Experience set up just for @Brian_R170, and he can come over and wallow in farm shit.




Update: The guest cancelled with no penalty to the guest or to me, the host. Brian_R170 - it would not have been a huge advertising opportunity. We did Wife Swap (ABC) years ago and it did not help our business at all - just wrecked havoc with our personal life.

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Most hosts are asked to accommodate film shoots / music videos from time to time so it’s handy to know about Giggster that specialises in such rentals.

People asking to rent via Airbnb are trying to save hundreds of dollars as a rental that might be $200 per night on Airbnb can be $200 per hour on Giggster. So Airbnb hosts are in demand of film crews. It might seem like a niche market you can benefit from but (depending on where you are) you’ll need special insurance, a cleanup crew and contracts.

This article shows more and has a link to Giggster.

I’m listed on Giggster. They provide support for Hosts especially new one in rates, vetting, contracts, insurance, etc.
Have had a few bites. Good thing is that the Host sets the terms of bookings up front. How many that you will accommodate is one.
I think that it’s a very good site for some.:+1:


I would have booked it, with some stipulations of where they could not go. So cool - I bet they would be interesting people.

I rented a townhome to a crew that was doing a documentary. Yes, I know, the fear is that they are shooting porn in the place. Not at all. They left every day with their equipment and returned at night. I wish I would have meet them personally and learned about the documentary they were shooting.

In the end, 99% of people are good. - set the rules and meet the people. I have been amazed at the interesting people I have met.